Don’t Let Thieves Steal Your Art—Draft a Music Licensing Agreement
Have you recently started producing songs and are worried that someone might steal your work? Worry no more! DoNotPay can help you understand how music licensing agreements work, how to write a contract, and how to protect your work from infringement once you sign up!
What Is a Music Licensing Agreement?
Copyrights protect the intellectual property owner. The owner offers exclusive authorization to individuals or corporations to copy and reproduce their work in exchange for royalties.
Music copyrights work in the same way. A music licensing agreement is a contract protecting the musician’s rights, ensuring all their works are copyrighted. The musician decides who can reproduce their work and earn money from it.
The agreement is between the creator and a party wanting to use the artist’s work. If you want to use an original song in your ads, films, or TV shows, you will require a music licensing agreement. You will have to pay compensation to the creator through royalties.
Types of Music Licenses
There are several music licensing methods presented in the table below:
|Synchronization||Refers to music combined with visual media and can be used in advertisements, personal films, studio films, and more|
|Master||The song owner holds the license and authorizes other parties to use a pre-recorded song in a visual/audio project|
|Public performance||License to broadcast an artist’s work in concerts, stores, or jukeboxes|
|Print rights||The physical copy of the music that a musician creates|
|Theatrical||Used in theaters for performing on-stage|
Music licenses can be exclusive and non-exclusive. With exclusive rights, you give authority to a single party to use a song however they like. With non-exclusive rights, you are not committed to a single party and have multiple options available.
Why Do You Need a Music Licensing Agreement?
You need a music licensing agreement in the following cases:
- When you’re creating public content
- If you’re making music for streaming websites, films, commercials, radio, or print
- If you want to protect your work from getting stolen
- When you want to cover someone else’s song publicly
- When you want to use original songs in any way, be it lyrics, instruments, vocals, or theme
Essential Clauses of a Music Licensing Agreement
Here are a few essential clauses to incorporate in your agreement:
- Copyright owners
- Permission of specific uses
- Duration of the arrangement
- Song augmentation
An artist usually has sole ownership over their songs, but there can be more than one copyright owner. This includes lyricists, composers, and labels. It is important to know who the owners are to get written permission for content use.
Permission of Specific Uses
A song can be licensed for single, multiple, and all-purpose uses.
In the case of single use, the song is licensed for one purpose only. If a producer uses it in a movie, they cannot use the same song in an advertisement.
For multiple purposes, the artist gives multi-purpose rights. Their work can be used in ads, movies, or other visual projects.
All-purpose rights allow the producer to use the song however they want. The artist forgoes all rights to control the use of their piece of music.
This clause decides how and where the song can be used. In some cases, artists create music exclusively for a movie that cannot be used elsewhere unless otherwise stated.
Duration of the Arrangement
It is important to state the duration of the licensing arrangement. It can be fixed or vary depending on other factors.
Some agreements are binding only in specific locations. For example, a song can only be used for an ad in the United States.
The musician can keep royalty rights from profits earned by the licensing party for a specified time.
In some cases, an artist can give rights to modify their song. While the essence remains the same, the producer can clip, remix, or extend the song. It is up to the artist to choose whether they want to maintain the integrity of the song or accommodate the licensor.
This clause determines whether the licensor can sell the song to a third party.
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